I’ve been meaning to read Cassandra Clare’s books for a few years now. I think the main reason it took me so long to get around to them was because (from the blurb) I was expecting them to be a but of fluff — a quick fun read like some YA books are. Not that there’s anything wrong with being fluff, but it meant I kept prioritising other books (and I think in Australia they were slightly more expensive than some YA books because of the format (trade paperback) but I might be wrong about that). Anyway, it was this (SPOILER-containing) blog post (/containing SPOILERS) by Cassandra Clare which made me realise there was probably more depth to the books than I had assumed from the covers and, ultimately, convinced me to read them sooner rather than later. So I did.
(Also, it’s being made into a movie and of course I have to read the books before the movies come out.)
City of Bones is the first of Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments series. It’s set in New York (you can’t get much more urban fantasy than that) and the mythology reminded me a bit of Buffy in the sense that the good guys were mostly running around killing demons. Although vampires weren’t automatically evil as in Buffy. Also there were faeries, so not really all that similar. Anyway.
Shadowhunters are trained from an early age to fight demons and any half-demon creatures that step out of line (like vampires that decide to munch on humans, for example). Clary thinks she’s an ordinary girl until she sees three teenagers in a nightclub no one else can see. Also, they kill a vampire in front of her. Then her mother disappears and her whole world changes; Clary finds herself in the supernatural world, dragging her completely human best friend in with her.
One of the things I liked about Clary was that, unlike many didn’t-know-s/he-was-special stories, she isn’t some long-lost secretly superpowerful creature. She hasn’t been training to fight demons from an early age, so she kind of sucks at it. Although she has some natural talent, she pretty much just manages to be lucky enough not to get herself killed and that’s while she’s not actively fighting them. On the other hand, she also isn’t much of a damsel in distress, at least not once she gets over the whole “demons exist” thing, which is also nice.
I enjoyed the banter between Clary and the gorgeous-and-knows-it Shadowhunter, Jace. I wasn’t a big fan of most of the other characters, except for one that I can’t name because spoilers. Not that they were badly written, just that I’m not sure I would have liked them much as people. I did find them entertaining, though, and I got the feeling that I might grow to like them in later books as we get to know them better and as they grow.
City of Bones has everything a good YA urban fantasy should: magic, monsters, parties, flashy transportation, confusing crushes, betrayal, plots, supremacist bad guys and unrequited love. I enjoyed City of Bones and I’ll definitely be picking up the next book when I can *shakes fist at book buying restriction which means I can’t have it NOW*. It also gets an extra half a star for actually surprising me with a plot twist. Not too many books manage to surprise me these days.
4.5 / 5 stars